After an unusual start, the CSU women's volleyball team moved to 4-3 on the season after winning the Hilton Classic over the weekend.
The Rams started the tournament against UC Irvine, who at 3-3 on the season looked strong coming into the match. But the energy of the fans overwhelmed the Anteaters who were outplayed in three consecutive games, 30-22, 30-24 and 35-33.
"I thought that we played a solid match in every aspect of the game," Head Coach Tom Hilbert said. "Serving for us tonight was definitely key."
The Rams showed much improvement from the match Tuesday against Denver, looking like a team in mid-season form.
In game one, freshman setter Ashley Fornstrom took control of the game for the Rams as she recorded 47 assists and found the hitters on the court. Senior outside hitters Casey Bauer and Tess Rogers had 18 and 12 kills respectively, while sophomore outside hitter Tonya Mokelki chipped in with 11 kills for the game.
"Ashley was great tonight," Bauer said. "She knows when to set myself, Tonya or Tess. She knows who is on."
The third game of the match was by far the most exciting, with most of the 2,000-plus fans on their feet the whole time. With the Rams up early in the match, it looked as if they would run away with it. But UC Irvine was tough and managed to pull ahead after a mid-game run. The scoring went back and forth as no team was up by more than two points. The Rams claimed their victory on a Mokelki service ace, her third of the match.
The Rams then took on the Hokies from Virginia Tech in the morning match of a double header.
With a great blocking day by the Rams, they swept Virginia Tech in three games, 31-29, 30-24, 30-26.
The Rams tallied 17 blocks as a team, with four Rams recording career highs in that category. Setter Ashley Fornstrom had four blocks, Tess Rogers added three, Tonya Mokelki chipped in with four and sophomore transfer Amanda Fahnestock, led the team with six, all career highs.
"We blocked the ball and spread the ball around very nicely today," Hilbert said.
Senior Dre Downs led the match in hitting percentage (10-1-20), while junior libero Katherine Whitney had a match high 16 digs. The loss for the Hokies dropped them to 1-4 on the season.
In the last match of the tournament, the Rams took on Oregon State. The Beavers were probably the toughest team the Rams faced in this year's tournament, but the result was the same as CSU won in four games 30-24, 30-20, 22-30 and 30-19.
Whitney was named tournament MVP after notching 18 digs against the Beavers, which brought her total for the weekend to 52. Casey Bauer also had a good night with match-high 18 kills. Bauer had 44 kills, 31 digs and 12 blocks over the tournament to join Whitney on the all-tournament team.
Freshman Mekana Barnes had an outstanding showing as she had 12 kills and a career-high nine blocks.
The Beavers were led by junior middle blocker Abby Windell who recorded 10 kills on the night. Oregon State, after a strong start to the season, dropped to 4-2.
The Rams have a week of practice before getting back out onto the court against New Mexico State and Florida A&M in the Coors Rocky Mountain Challenge next weekend.